Vol. 5 Num 317 Mon. April 18, 2005  

Indian cardinal in race for papacy

India's Cardinal Ivan Dias, known to toe the line of the late Pope John Paul II on homosexuality, birth control and the role of missionaries, is among the top contenders in the race to be the next pope.

Ordained a priest on December 8, 1958, in the western Indian city of Mumbai, Dias is said to wield considerable influence in the Vatican, so much so, according to some reports, that some liberal priests fear him.

Shortly after his ordination, he was selected to go to the Eccles-iastical Academy of Rome for studies and was a Vatican diplomat for more than 30 years in various parts of the world before returning to Bombay, the city where he was born, in 1997 as archbishop.

Named Cardinal by John Paul II in February 2001, Dias has some factors going for him to land the job of leading the world's 1.1 billion Catholics, observers say.

Reports say he is a multi-linguist -- fluent in as many as 16 languages, mostly European but including Korean.